Thrush (Oral Candidiasis): Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Oral thrush is a type of yeast infection of the mouth and throat. The yeast that causes oral thrush is typically Candida albicans. This infection is common in babies and can occur in people of any age. A white tongue is a common sign, and this can be associated with white patches in the throat or anywhere in the mouth, such as the palate or inner cheeks. Soreness and mouth pain can also be present. In severe cases, the infection can spread into the throat and esophagus and may lead to pain or problems with swallowing. Fever may be present if the infection spreads widely.

Causes of oral thrush (candidiasis)

Candida albicans is the yeast that typically causes oral thrush. Certain factors can predispose someone to developing the illness, including illness, pregnancy, medications, smoking, or dentures. It is more likely to develop in people who have suppressed immune function, such as people receiving cancer chemotherapy or those with HIV/AIDS. Medications like antibiotics or corticosteroids that upset the normal balance of bacteria in the mouth may also predispose a person to developing oral thrush.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/20/2016

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